February 13, 2020
Why develop and sell WordPress plugins?
The WordPress economy is growing, and it is growing fast. With new sites being created constantly, and growing demand for solutions to streamline the process of creating a site there is a ton of room for new products and services in this ecosystem. There are a lot of different types of business you can start, and the one you choose should of course match the skills you have and your partners have.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy to just put something out there and make a ton of quick money. If you’re willing to put in the hard work, have a great idea, and market it properly, you can make good, and possibly great money creating a WordPress product or service.
Getting these things in order, will inform everything you do, both in terms of development and marketing. Until you know who you’re selling to, how you’re reaching them and what exactly you are selling them you can’t have an informed decision about if what you plan to sell is of solves a real problem and represents a significant value at the price to who you plan to sell to.
4 Essential Things Needed to effectively Sell WordPress Plugins
Now you have your developed plugin ready, the question now is what other materials you needed to prepare before starting to sell your plugin? Here are some things you need to be able to properly and effectively sell your plugins:
Documentation and other Materials
Now that we have successfully developed our plugin, the next step is to provide necessary documents and materials to support and explain our plugin to prospective customers. The things we need to prepare are:
Plugin Product Page – This will be the main landing page of your plugin. It means that we should have explained here, in brief sentences:
- What are the key features of this plugin?
- What is the purpose of this plugin?
- What are the problems this plugin solves?
- How will it solve the problem?
- How can your WordPress website benefit by using this plugin?
Simply, your product page must properly introduce the use of the plugin so that prospective customers will find it helpful and effective to use on their own WordPress websites.
Plugin Documentation Page – This will be the second most important page of your plugin. Here you will need to properly explain and document how this plugin works, starting from installation, setup and how the process is done. It is important to provide a simple, step by step procedure so that customers will find it easy to follow, without a hassle. It is also important to always provide an image to show visually how the process works.
Plugin Featured Image – The main image should represent in one glance what the plugin is
all about. It should also be eye-catching enough so users will be much attracted to check it out.
Screenshots of the Frontend Functionalities and Backend Settings – Besides the images to be added on the product and documentation pages, there should also be a section to display a complete collection of gallery images of every essential part and features of the plugin. We can include images from the frontend, showcasing how it appears live on your website, and also at the backend, to show what are the configurations the customer is likely to come across.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers – Another important material we need to prepare is the plugin’s frequently asked questions, along with the answers. Since your plugin has just been released, we can assume for the moment, possible pre-sale questions that your customers may come up with. This is to make everything easy for all parties since customers won’t trouble you with tons of questions even before buying.
Plugin Demo and Demo Server
Providing a Plugin Demo where prospective buyers can access how exactly the plugin would work is very effective in marketing and selling it. This way, the visitors would know what the plugin will look like on a website and see how exactly it functions. Also, they can simulate and configure it themselves if you are to give a peek on the plugin’s backend settings.
In order to do this, you need to:
- Setup a secured Demo/Stage Server
- Install and configure the plugin itself on the Demo Server
- Create Dummy Users and/or Information to see how the plugin will work
- Provide Login Details to share with test users
It is also important to give easy and clear instructions on how customers can contact you for support. Don’t forget to give details on the availability of your customer service and how they can ask presale and post-sale questions.
Video Introduction of the Plugin
Producing a video to introduce and explain the plugin is also a good way to effectively and quickly sell it. In the video you’re going to prepare, just briefly introduce the plugin, explain the key features, and show how it is installed and configured. This way, the customers will easily understand the purpose of this plugin, as well as how to configure it, especially for those who have just purchased it.
Now that you have thought of a grand idea for a WordPress plugin, had it developed, used it on your WordPress website for testing, it works flawlessly, now you want to sell it. What are your options to sell this plugin?
How to Sell WordPress Plugins
There are lots of different ways you can market and sell your WordPress plugin. Each method has its own set of pros and cons. So you really want to explore all the options that are available to you and then choose the option that suits your situation.
Sell your WordPress Plugin to an existing marketplace
The trouble with getting started in selling your WordPress Plugins is that you don’t have a platform to introduce it yet. If you just launched your own digital downloads website, you’ll end up announcing your new plugin to a tiny audience. That will translate into very disappointing sales.
So what can you do? You release your new plugin in an established digital downloads marketplace with currently active thousands of hungry customers. The best digital downloads marketplace to sell your WordPress Plugins is at CodeCanyon.
Codecanyon is a very popular marketplace by Envato. If you’re looking to sell WordPress plugins, CodeCanyon is the best candidate for your plugins. Many people start with CodeCanyon before creating their own websites since publishing your WordPress Plugins in a much established marketplace with a lot of customers is a very good opportunity to earn revenue with your Plugin. With CodeCanyon, you can skip the hassle of building your own platform, and you’ll immediately reach a wide audience which is perhaps the hardest part of selling your own plugins online.
Let me show you this example, the product WooCommerce Amazon Affiliates was first created and published on CodeCanyon in 2012. Since then, they garnered 27,307 plugin sales in total. If you are to compute their annual plugin revenue, you will get an amount of $178,405/year with this single plugin only!
Other online marketplaces where you can opt to sell your WordPress Plugins are Mojo Marketplace and Codester.
Launch Your Own Portal/Site
Creating your own dedicated digital downloads webstore to sell your WordPress Plugin is also a good idea. We recommend WordPress for simplicity and ease of use. Using WordPress platform on your site with an eCommerce plugin to handle the selling of your plugins is a really good way to approach this. One best example is by using Easy Digital Downloads Plugin.
Easy Digital Downloads
EDD is a free WordPress plugin and 30% of all the top 10 million websites use WordPress. Basically, setting up your Easy Digital Download stores could be your smartest move if you are into eCommerce and have excellent digital goods ready to offer for download. Unlike WooCoommerce and Shopify that are better known in marketing physical products online, you don’t have to deal with inventory or shipping costs with EDD.
The plugin was continuously improved as a generally licensed open-source WordPress plugin which attracted the interest of a community of developers eager to improve its functionalities that is similar to WooCommerce which have created an ecosystem of plugins and developers.
Therefore, over time the EDD plugin became more reliable and was extensively tested increasing its reliability and workflow processes. Further, additional plugins were developed to enhance the functionalities of Easy Digital Downloads stores even more. Compact but complete, EDD today can be considered as one of the best choices among vendors whenever selling digital products since this plugin was especially designed to do such.
WooCommerce is also a WordPress platform based, by 2015 already 30% of the world’s eCommerce websites were powered by WooCommerce. Originally created to sell physical items, WooCommerce is now also used in marketing digital products as new plugin enhancing functions became easily available. WooCommerce today is now one of the largest ecommerce platforms in the web that cater to large and even small online merchants.
If you want to sell physical goods then WooCommerce can offer the largest market possibilities to you. WooCommerce is owned and backed down by Automattic that also manages WordPress and therefore it is continuously receiving support and development and has the largest products for third-party extensions that can power up your ecommerce stores’ functionality.
On the one hand, EDD was primarily built to market digital products although there is now the possibility of selling physical products. It is also becoming one of the largest marketplaces for official and third-party extensions and add-ons.
There exist other platform solutions you may want to check out before deciding what to actually build and use with. But, what we recommend is to use WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads. We choose EDD because this is basically more user-friendly than WooCommerce in terms of selling digital downloadable products.
How to Market your WordPress Plugins
The reason for focusing on plugin marketing is simple: even if you have the greatest plugin ever made, if people don’t know about it, you’re not going to sell to anyone. This is where marketing comes in. To help developers, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to plugin marketing.
1. Content Marketing
This is the process of creating online material (e.g blog posts, videos, infographics, GIFs, images, etc.) that is of interest to your target audiences such as your customers and vendors and gives them a reason to visit your homepage.
Content marketing is a very useful way to help sell your WordPress Plugins. This involves using various types of content in order to perfectly market plugins. It’s affordable and incredibly effective when done right.
2. Tweak your Landing Pages for SEO
Another important consideration when marketing a plugin is SEO. Investing time in SEO will help potential customers find your plugin through organic search. Doing keyword research can help you find the proper keywords to use on the plugin product page, video description, and WordPress.org plugin listing.
3. Create a Plugin Free Version
Posting your Plugin at WordPress.org’s plugin repository is a great way to reach new audiences and creating a successful free plugin on WordPress is a great foundation for a business. It also helps boost your credibility, both when you do start selling plugins and when you start contributing to large open-source plugin products.
Putting your first plugins out for free allows you to get better as a developer the only way possible — by inviting others to break and criticize your code. In addition, it allows you to start with small, simple things, since you’re less worried about impact.
Customers use the WordPress.org plugin repository to search for new plugins, compare options, and learn more about developers. Because it’s the starting point for a lot of WordPress users, listing plugins on WordPress.org can be an incredibly effective marketing technique.
4. Email Marketing
One goal of your marketing strategy should be to build up an email marketing list. An email marketing list can become a very effective tool for communicating with your audience and incentivize them to come back to revisit your website.
The first step in setting up your email marketing program is to set up an onboarding process. Mostly this can be done by adding a subscription offer at the checkout page to stay updated on news and product updates. In Easy Digital Downloads, this can be done by installing the MailChimp plugin46. Another way is to add a widget or a popup window with subscription suggestion on your website.
Email newsletters should be sent on a regular basis (e.g. monthly) but also not overdoing it as otherwise unsubscribe rates will become high.
5. Social Media
Promoting a plugin is all about letting people know how awesome it is. Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more are great ways to expose a wide audience to your products.
To get the most from social media, regularly post that superb content you created (above) and quick blurbs about your plugins highlighting what they do. Social media posts with images generally get more attention, so make or find some simple images to go with your posts. In addition, make sure to use hashtags so people can find your posts.
Another social media marketing technique is to join groups on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn with members who are already interested in WordPress plugins or the general solution you’re offering. Many groups allow members to post their plugins. This can be a good way to get your plugins in front of a specific target audience instead of a general one.
6. Plugin Reviews, Guest Posting, & WordPress News Sites
Several WordPress-specific sites with high traffic will do plugin reviews of new plugins, write articles about new plugins, or accept guest posts about plugins. This can be a good way to expose your plugin to a large audience of WordPress lovers.
Plugin reviews are not always the most effective plugin marketing tool, as the review can either not turn out so well or the website can choose not to review the plugin. If your plugin does get a good review, though, this can really boost its popularity.You can try offering a free copy of the premium plugin to WordPress bloggers (no matter how small the blog) in exchange for a review. Some will review plugins for a price. Look for specific guidelines about plugin reviews. If you don’t see any, it doesn’t hurt to contact.
Some of these WordPress websites will also accept guest posts about your plugin. Write a clear piece about what makes your plugin special and useful and submit it to one (or several) of these sites. If a site picks it up, you’re potentially on your way to increased plugin sales.
Conclusion: Selling WordPress Plugins actually becomes easy
First thing is that you need to prepare everything before starting to sell your Plugins. This way, you are ready with all essential materials and documents to use and support your Plugins and sell it in the most effective way to your audience.
There are actually a lot of ways to sell your WordPress Plugins. We have mentioned some of these tips and you only have to choose the most effective and convenient strategy for you – either by using platforms or selling it in an online marketplace.
Elle is the Marketing Manager at Plugins & Snippets, a specialized WordPress agency focused on developing plugins for eCommerce store solutions such as Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce. Elle loves to find new ways of making things better and helping our customers to succeed.